POLITICS

Marjory LeBreton Whisked Away From Journalists At Tory Campaign Event

08/16/2015 04:44 EDT | Updated 08/16/2015 05:59 EDT

The Conservative campaign fought Sunday to keep its message on the Mike Duffy affair under control as Stephen Harper faced yet another day of questions on the matter.

Reporters who tried to approach former Conservative Sen. Marjory LeBreton didn't get a chance to ask her questions about the issue because Conservative staffers whisked her away to an area located behind a black curtain.

LeBreton served as the Conservative leader in the Senate when the Duffy scandal erupted more than two years ago and has also been a major force in Conservative campaigns for several election campaigns.

Conservative spokesman Kory Teneycke said Sunday that LeBreton, who recently retired from the upper chamber, is less involved in the 2015 campaign due to her husband's medical condition.

Harper was dogged again by questions on the Duffy scandal, as he was most of last week.

The issue dominated news headlines last week as the prime minister's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, testified at the senator's criminal trial in Ottawa.

Wright is expected to face further cross-examination from Duffy's lawyer, Donald Bayne, on Monday.

Harper maintains he took action to address the controversy, which involved Wright giving $90,000 to Duffy to deal with questions over his expense filings.

Three of the 31 charges that Duffy faces are related to the famous $90,000 payment that he received from Wright _ he has pleaded not guilty to all the counts, which include fraud and breach of trust.

Wright told court last week he informed the prime minister Duffy repaid the money himself.

"My view from the outset, what I told Mr. Duffy was that I could not justify his expense claims,'' Harper said again on Sunday.

"I believed he should pay them back. ''

Email evidence tabled in court indicates lines of communication on the repayment plan extended far beyond Wright and Duffy.

A plan to see Duffy's expenses repaid by the Conservative party fund fell through, according to Wright, when Sen. Irving Gerstie-- who controls this money-- learned about the pricetag was $90,000 instead of $32,000.

Wright said several insiders were aware of this original proposal.

"I'm trying to remember everybody who was involved,'' Wright said.

"Sen. Duffy, Janice Payne, Chris Woodcock, Patrick Rogers, Sen. Gerstein, Arthur Hamilton, Ben Perrin..there might be others but I remember those on the emails.''

Harper was asked on Sunday about how he felt about the first repayment plan, but he did not respond directly to the question.

"I was told he was paying them back and had paid them back,'' Harper said.

"That's why I took the action I did when I found out that was not the case.''

Harper began the day at a hardware store in west Ottawa, where he highlighted the Conservative promises for a home renovation tax credit.

Harper took his campaign to the Maritimes, where the many voters in the region have treated him warily and Conservatives are expected to have a tough time holding some of their seats.

In 2002 when he was leader of the Canadian Alliance Harper referred to a defeatist attitude in Atlantic Canada that held the region back, prompting the Nova Scotia legislature to pass a resolution condemning the comment.

The Conservative leader was to attend a rally in Amherst, N.S. before moving on to Fredericton.

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